Two of the bigger myths that have occupied Church of God members over the decades is the now disproven and irrelevant man-made doctrine of British Israelism and the heavily promoted myth of Petra being the "place of final training" for the chosen few.
The biggest proponent of the Petra myth was Herman Hoeh, the discredited non-historian on all things historical and biblical. His "research" is still trotted out today as the end-all truth restored to
Herman Hoeh wrote in the April 1962, Good News:
Let's open our Bibles to see why Petra has puzzled scholars and Bible students for centuries.
The true Church of God is pictured in Revelation 12. It is symbolized by a woman — the bride of Christ. But it is a persecuted woman — a Church hated by the world. According to verse 6 the Church fled the first time from her persecutors for 1260 years — during the Middle Ages. But verse 14 unveils another flight of the Church — in the very last days. This time the duration is only 3 1/2 years! "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle" — supernatural deliverance — "that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time" — 3 1/2 years.
This prophecy has never been understood by the world because the world cannot understand to whom this prophecy refers. It does not recognize who are the true Church. It sees only the false churches, described in Revelation 17.
But consider now the special time of this prophecy about protection in a mysterious wilderness. Notice exactly which period in the history of God's Church the escape shall occur. Turn to Revelation 3:7-13. This is addressed to the Philadelphia Era of God's Church — the Church before whom Christ opens the door to preach His gospel around the world (verse 8). Because this Church has kept Gods word, Jesus promises: "I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation" — the time of trial — "which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth' (verse 10). Here is a world-wide terror to come upon all nations. This is not for the slow-moving past. It is a prophecy for the pulsating present the last days of human history — just before God intervenes to set up His Kingdom to bring peace at last.
Here is a prophecy for this generation — at the very time God's Church is preaching and publishing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God world-wide. This prophecy is about us!
But how will Jesus keep us from the coming trial and persecution? We just read the answer from Revelation 12! There is a place of safety, in a wilderness, for the people of God.
But where is that wilderness?
That is the mystery that has puzzled so many for so long! God has kept it a mystery so the world would not know. He has even kept it hidden from God's Church in the past so His people would have their minds on their work! It is only those who are having a part in the work of God — who have their minds on the Kingdom of God, not some physical place of protection — who will escape. That escape cannot be planned for in advance. It is a supernatural escape!
Remember, if the Christians in Jerusalem in apostolic days had quit their work and prematurely escaped to Pella before A.D. 69, they would have been destroyed by the Roman armies who devastated the city. It was only those who completed the work of God who reached safety in A.D. 69 after the Romans destroyed Pella!
That is why God has veiled the exact place of escape from human eyes all these years. But as the days draw closer to the time of the end, the light of prophecy shines ever more clearly! When the moment comes that we need to know where that place of safety is, Christ will make it known. Meanwhile we need to keep our eyes open and our minds yielded — drinking in the implications of prophecy for this Church today! But where does Petra fit in all this?
An Old Testament ProphecyTurn to Isaiah 42:l0-13. Here is a prophecy for today — a time of divine intervention, verse 14. Now read verse 11 from the Jewish Publication Society translation according to the original inspired Hebrew:
"Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit" — the descendants of Kedar are the Bedouin Arabs who dwell throughout the Middle East in black tents. Here we have a wilderness located in the Arab world! But continue reading: "Let the inhabitants of Sela exult. Let them shout from the top of the mountains." The inhabitants of Sela? Who are they? And where is Sela? (In the King James Version the word for Sela is translated "rock.")
Any Bible student knows that Sela is the Hebrew name of Petra! Sela means Rock — in Hebrew; Petra means Rock in Greek! But Sela or Petra is fundamentally uninhabited today, save for a few dozen wandering Bedouin. These are not the inhabitants in this verse, for notice verse 12: "Let them" — the inhabitants of Petra or Sela — "give glory unto the Lord" — the Bedouin do not know God, they are Mohammedan — "and declare His praise in the islands."
Which islands? The islands which Israel inhabits — Isaiah 41:1 and 8. God is certainly not going to use a few uneducated, ignorant Mohammedan Bedouin to declare His glory in the islands and coastlands of Northwestern Europe — where Israel is today! This prophecy resurrection and the return of Christ in power and glory. Christ is going to use His servants — now immortal in the Kingdom of God — to proclaim His intervention and the establishment of His Kingdom over all the earth. He is going to use the very ones whom He is now using to proclaim His message. Then they will finally heed!
Isn't this prophecy a clear indication that the place of safety for the people of God who are now doing the work of God — and broadcasting to the islands and coastlands of Northwestern Europe — is in an Arabian wilderness, where the Bedouin dwell and is probably at Sela, or Petra?
Because Armstrongism set itself up as something "special" it had to constantly reinforce the idea that it would be persecuted for its beliefs. Being such a small church in membership, it was to be persecuted for keeping the truth alive, that for some reason God never had the capability of preserving for 1,900 years.
One of the unique things about aberrant faiths is the desire to make the group special and filled with secret knowledge. Going to a place of safety and being protected by God was the specialness of Armstrongism. It is still forcefully advocated by the major false prophets of Armstrongism to this very day. From Dave Pack to Gerald Flurry, from Almost Arrested Bob Thiel to Rod Meredith and even the more "enlightened" UCG boys. Petra is always on the back burner ready to be brought forth when a world crisis hits the scene.
Almost Arrested Thiel has yet another post up today about Petra. Like everything he writes about he will never take a stand on anything. Petra may be the place of safety, but it may not be, but it most likely could be...well...maybe... I am surprised that Almost Arrested Thiel is such a milquetoast when it comes to taking theological stands, espically when he was trained by his daddy/idol Rod Meredith, who as "The Man", always took a stand.
Almost Arrested Thiel writes:
"Petra has long held prophetic interest for Christians.
The Bible tells of a place in the wilderness where some Christians are subject to protection (Revelation 12:14-16). Many have wondered if this could be Petra in Jordan.
Carnally speaking, Petra is not a place many would pick (cf. 10 safest nations to be in during World War III? Has WWIII begun?). But God may have chosen it or at least somewhere relatively near or like it.
One of many sermons by the Continuing Church of God at the ContinuingCOG YouTube channel and is titled Might Petra be the Place of Safety?
It covers information such as:
The Bible teaches that a portion of the Christians will be protected in a wilderness area during the Great Tribulation. Might this place be Petra in Jordan? Which places do the Bible show can and cannot be the place of safety? Is the idea of Christians fleeing to an area with caves during the reign of the Beast and Antichrist an old one or a modern invention? Which Christians get this protection and which do not? Will those who do not go be subject to persecution? Do Catholic prophecies warn against this biblical place of protection?As far as Petra goes there are several clues in the Bible that suggests Petra or a place similar to it. But part of this is based upon where the place of protection is not."
"In terms of its location from Jerusalem, Petra (Sela on some Bible maps) is mainly south and slightly east of Jerusalem.
Now it is also possible that the actual place could simply be just be near Petra or perhaps the location will be far from it.
Philadelphians and the Wilderness
In the New Testament, while not all Christians are promised physical protection, the Philadelphians are promised to be protected from the Great Tribulation and this place is in the wilderness according the the Book of Revelation:"
"Places, such as Petra, are in the wilderness and in a biblically possible location.
Now, because of the fact that Petra is such an important tourist site for Jordan, and because of archaeological considerations, it may not be the place. But it could be or even near the place.
While Petra may not be the place, it is a place to be considered."You can read his convoluted drivel here: Petra in the news! Could Petra be the place in the wilderness where Christians are protected during the Great Tribulation?